Scandinavian Sausages and Bad Bank Cards
“This one’s from Norway,” she says, placing the platter under my nose. “It’s made from yak. And this one’s from Finland. Not sure what it is, but it tastes like blue pepper.” These are not made-for-breakfast sausages, although you could if you wanted. What’s keeping you from baking a batch of flaky buttermilk biscuits and stuffing them with Scandinavian sausages? What started as a cheese-of-the-month club morphed into sausages-of-the-world, shipped monthly in a double-layer cardboard box, three half-pound samples nestled like babies in small pillows of dry ice. Each arrival brings holidays and birthdays and party-like atmospheres into the house. “If only the cheese and sausage would arrive on the same day,” she pines. “Do you think they can change delivery dates?” I take her to The Luscious Lemon for lunch, very girly-girly and everything’s for sale: cushions and ornately-painted powder boxes; lipsticks and exotic shampoos with ingredients from Madagascar that I can’t pronounce; high-end tablecloths and runners; tables scapes and soaps; porcelain birds, gnomes and mushrooms whose polished caps throw sunlight in our faces. It’s a trap. And the food is brunchy. She just loves this place. So much. It makes her talk more than she normally does. Like record floods, torrents of water tearing down village streets. She never wants wine but says it’s okay if I have one glass. “Don’t forget you’re driving.” The ATM spits out my green bank card as if it tastes bitter. There’s a line behind me. I try three times. The person behind me huffs and I give him a go-to-hell look. Two can play this game. The bank associate has gathered up her personal belongings to leave for the day. I show her the card. “Here’s the problem,” she says, pointing to a crimp on the side of the magnetic strip. “Order me a new one,” I say, “before you go home.” “There’s a fee for that.” “Since when?” “This week,” she says. “That really sucks,” I tell her. “How much?” “Ten dollars.” “Do it,” I say, “but you’re not getting any Scandinavian sausages or cheese. And you can forget about the biscuits.”
Thinking About Learning German While Making Myself a Grilled Cheese
Over there is a grater for re-purposing potatoes into sweet gluten-filled spackle, adding this and that to the sticky concoction, shaping them into three-inch patties, dropping them gently into medium-hot oil. The kiss as they lie down, give up the ghost, toast away into perfect scaffolding for sour cream and chives. So why am I telling you about this genetic aberration, one that she cannot escape, one for which there is no cure? She clasps her heritage with pewter talons, and clicks her heels together in perfect time, shoving the pumpernickel over the kitchen counter, and slapping three slices of muenster onto the carving board. “Now you can make your sandwich,” she says. I predicted this situation three years ago. It’s evening primrose popping from tightly wound whorls into lemon night. I understand in my own skin, how to cut it, roll it up, spread it across thick bread, with butter. I will not burn it to ash. I will not worship it. I will not claim to understand it like lightning. It is art in a cast iron skillet, short-lived and guttural, raw and demanding. It is time for me to earn points for learning her language.
Whether John Dorroh taught any secondary science is still being discussed. However, he managed to show up every morning at 6:45 for a couple of decades with at least two lesson plans and a thermos of robust Colombian. His poetry has appeared in about 75 journals, including Dime Show Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Os Pressan, Feral, Selcouth Station, and Red Dirt Forum/Press. He also writes short fiction and the occasional rant.